New research suggests that a breakfast of fried eggs with oatmeal or plain, greek yogurt with fresh fruit may be the most effective way to control blood sugar and hunger for those with Type 2 diabetes.
A recent research trial assigned a group of people with Type 2 diabetes to either a big or small breakfast group. Each person in the big breakfast group ate about 1/3rd of their daily calories upon rising. The small breakfast contained about 12 percent of total daily calories. The big breakfast also contained a higher percentage of protein and fat (think eggs, ham, or yogurt, not cereal or pop tarts).
After 13 weeks, the big breakfast group had:
- Reduced their blood glucose levels 3 times as much as the small breakfast group
- 1/3rd of the group were able to reduce the amount of daily medicine they took to control their diabetes
- Showed blood pressure reductions that were four times greater
“As the study progressed, we found that hunger scores increased significantly in the small breakfast group while satiety scores increased in the big breakfast group,” said study co-author Dr. Hadas Rabinovitz, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “In addition, the big breakfast group reported a reduced urge to eat and less preoccupation with food, while the small breakfast group had increased preoccupation with food and a greater urge to eat over time.” Rabinovitz speculated that a big breakfast rich in protein causes suppression of ghrelin, which is known as the “hunger hormone.”
So why does the protein and fat control hunger and blood sugar when a high-carb breakfast like sugary cereal doesn’t? Because carbohydrates elevate blood sugar as quickly as 15 minutes after eating. Protein on the other hand, may take as long as three hours to convert into glucose, and along the way, it’s also used to do other things like repair muscle.
The researchers based their new study on previous investigations that found that people who regularly eat breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who skip the meal. BMI is a measurement that takes into account height and weight. Breakfast eaters also enjoy lower blood sugar levels and are able to use insulin more efficiently.
So what constitutes a low carb, high protein breakfast? That’s tricky. All sugars – of any kind – are carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are carbs, as is refined white sugar, and so are grain products like bread and pasta. However, there’s a difference in how they’re all digested.
Sugary, grain-based cereals break down quickly in your gut and blast your blood with glucose. To your body, the only purpose of these foods is a fast and calorie-dense source of energy. They’re sort of “here and gone”. Proteins like eggs or meat break down slowly in your gut and slowly elevate blood sugar. Carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables contain fiber which slows their breakdown, and also contribute much more slowly to blood glucose levels. All of these foods also affect hunger hormone levels differently.
It can all be quite complicated, so here are our suggestions for a healthy start. (Note: read labels on packaged foods and know what you’re buying. Many products, even supposed healthy products like flavored yogurts may have lots of added sugars.)
Dr Oz has a menu of excellent diabetic breakfast recipes, like this one:
1/2 mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sugar-free, fat-free yogurt (vanilla or citrus)
2/3 cup skim milk
Several ice cubes
2 tsp of protein powder (optional)
Whirl together in a blender or smoothie maker.
The American Diabetes Association has recipes, like this one:
Broccoli Feta Omelette
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves 4; serving size: 1/4 of omelette
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups liquid egg substitute
1 tsp dried dill weed
Salt to taste (optional)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup reduced-fat finely crumbled feta cheese
4 whole wheat luncheon rolls (optional)
- In a large nonstick skillet with sloping sides, combine the oil, broccoli, and onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 5 or 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the egg substitute in a medium bowl. With a fork, beat in the dill, salt, if desired, and pepper.
- When the onion is tender, add the egg substitute to the pan, if necessary tipping the pan so that the egg mixture covers the entire bottom. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the egg mixture. Cover, reduce heat, and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until the omelette is set.
- With a plastic spatula, cut the omelette into four servings, and transfer the servings to plates. Serve with luncheon rolls, if desired.